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Posted 5/20/2014

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Most boaters know they’re required to have a U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jacket on board for every passenger on their boat. Boating safety advocates recommend that all boaters and passengers not only have a life jacket, but ‘Wear It!’ at all times while boating.

Accidents on the water can happen much too fast to reach and put on a stowed life jacket. Of those who died in boating accidents in 2012, almost three-fourths of all accident victims drowned – and 85 percent of those who drowned were not wearing a life jacket.

The good news is that today’s life jackets are much more comfortable, lightweight and stylish than the bulky orange style most boaters know. Life jackets that use inflatable technologies are cool and comfortable. They may resemble a pair of suspenders or a belt pack. Many inflate automatically when immersed in water.

Other life jacket styles are available for almost any boating activity.

For fishing: Vest-style life jackets come with features such as pockets and clips to replace the fishing vest and keep the angler safe.

For personal watercraft and water sports: Inherently buoyant lighter-weight life jackets are rugged, with multiple buckles and clasps to keep them secure after impact with the water.

For hunting and cold weather: Full coats and suits are available in camouflage colors for waterfowl hunting and for those who boat when air and water temperatures are cool.

For paddling: Special life jackets are designed with large openings for arms to allow ease of movement.

For children: Virtually all styles available are sized especially for children – some with cartoon characters, straps for pulling children from the water and high-visibility schemes.

For pets: Life jackets are even available for our four-legged friends. It’s helpful to purchase one with a handle on top to easily pull your pet out of the water, if needed.

No matter what the activity or style chosen, the most important thing is this: Remember to grab a life jacket and ‘Wear It!’

Visit SafeBoatingCampaign.com for more safe boating tips.